Designer Series: Nine Questions with John-William Interiors’ Diana Johnston
Diana Johnston’s four years at John William-Interiors have highlighted her distinct blend of interior design expertise and personal touch. We sat down with Diana to talk about her clients, career, and the care she puts into on every design project.
- How did you get your start? I always knew that I would be an interior designer. Even as a young girl I would read every book I could on design. When my son was in high school, I pursued it full time, working with Moses Design in Albuquerque. We specialized in multi-million dollar homes from start to finish, all around the southwest. My favorite design project back then was Angel Fire Country Club, which we did from the ground up.
- What do you consider your specialty? I know what’s right for a room the minute I walk in. Sometimes all it takes is a photo or two from a magazine, a swatch of fabric, or a favorite work of art. Asking the right questions is important. I believe I have a keen sense of color and fabrics, likely based on my experiences. Another area of specialty for me is window coverings, which can be very technical.
- What’s your favorite thing about being a designer? I love it all. It’s my passion. Even smaller projects are rewarding. It could be something as simple as adding the right sofa or chair to a room. I love the artistic process, the finished look, fabrics, the mixture of textures, and especially design as a layering affect. I also enjoy the initial consultation because it brings out an important trait for any designer, which is the ability to listen.
- Do you have a set strategy for new design projects? It usually starts with space planning. I take a lot of measurements. I draw each room. And I address the practical parts – what fits, what sizes are we looking at and then from there I talk with my clients about the color palette. You also have to take the flow of the house into consideration and look at constraints, too. Even the outside of the house is a factor. And you have to stay true to your personality and lifestyle. I don’t like contrived design. It has to mean something emotionally.
- What are your favorite types of projects? I love a blank slate when we can start from scratch. From the ground up is always good but I can start anywhere – I’m pretty good at making lemonade out of lemons. A recent project I finished featured a very European design, very “French château,” with a color palette I had never before used. I traveled to Dallas to find the fabrics, many which were “COM” (Customer’s Own Material), which means we had to have it all custom made. But it was all great fun.
- How do you handle differences of opinion with clients? Our job is to educate our clients – to work collaboratively with them but also tell them why we’re taking a particular approach. One of my best qualities as an interior designer is the connection I make, which happens because I’m so passionate about what I do.
- Explain the importance of being a good listener and communicator. It’s extremely important. People are inviting us into their life; they’re welcoming us into their home. Listening and communicating well help build trust, which is so important. It’s all very personal.
- What sets John-William Interiors apart? What makes us different is that we’re designers at our core. We’re not salespeople. Everybody who works here cares deeply about our customers. We truly work as a team and we’re always bouncing ideas off one another. And we’re not just a store with really amazing furniture. We’ve been here 30 years because we provide exceptional customer service.
- Any last thoughts? It’s not about me. It’s about my clients. My goal is to know what they envision their home to be. If they don’t know, I can help. I’m here to see my clients’ dreams come true.